Lucrezia Marinella (1571–1653), also called Marinelli, was a Venetian author and poet.
Born in Venice in 1571 to physician and humanist, Giovanni Marinelli, Marinella was educated at home. According to one of her contemporaries, Giovanni Stringa, she was confined to her room all day long—in accordance with the customs of the time—where she passionately devoted herself to literary studies. She was also renowned for her philosophical learning and musical prowess.
While Marinella composed many religious works, she is best known for her treatise La nobiltà, et l’eccellenza delle donne, co’ diffetti, et mancamenti de gli huomini [The Nobility and Excellence of Women and the Defects and Vices of Men]. This work was first published under a slightly different title, Le nobiltà et eccellenze delle donne: et i diffetti, e mancamenti de gli huomini [The Nobility and Excellence of Women; and the Flaws and Vices of Men], in 1600. In 1601, a revised edition with additional chapters was published. This work is a contribution to the querelle des femmes and was composed as an explicit response to Giuseppe Passi’s deeply misogynistic treatise, I donneschi difetti [The Defects of Women] (1599). In many instances in her treatise, Marinella directly addresses Passi and the claims made in I donneschi difetti. Her treatise is divided into two parts: the first discusses the virtues of women, and the second, the vices of men.
Marinella has also been associated with the second Venetian Academy, founded in 1593, for two reasons. First, The Nobility was published by Giovanni Battista Ciotti, one of the academy’s members and official publisher. Second, multiple members of the academy wrote sonnets praising Marinella, and she dedicated The Nobility to an academician, Lucio Scarano. It is also likely that Ciotti asked Marinella to write the work; in the first edition, Marinella stated that she had had only two months in which to complete it. It seems that the Venetian Academy may have played an active role in promoting the equality of women in reaction to the publication of Passi’s I donneschi difetti. In addition to publishing The Nobility of Women, one of the academy’s founding members, Giovanni Nicolò Doglioni, published Moderata Fonte’s Il merito delle donne [The Worth of Women] in 1600, eight years after her death.
Marinella died in Venice in 1653.
Zaja, Paolo. “Marinelli, Lucrezia.” In Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani volume 70 (2008) http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/lucrezia-marinelli_(Dizionario-Biografico)/ (accessed June 2, 2016)
Firpo, Massimo. “Ciotti, Giovanni Battista.” In Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani volume 25 (1981) http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/giovanni-battista-ciotti_(Dizionario-Biografico)/ (accessed June 22, 2016)